Smartphones have dramatically changed the way viewers experience television, in what’s known as the second screen phenomenon. Forty percent of adults in the United States use a second screen to keep them entertained while they’re watching TV. This leaves marketers scrambling to find the right medium for reaching an audience that’s increasingly distracted.
Though most people think of a smartphone like the feature-packed HTC One M9 from T-Mobile when picturing a second screen, this technology actually comes in behind notebook, laptop, and netbook computers for second screen viewing. Nearly a third of second screen viewers use a computer of some sort while watching TV, while just over a quarter use their smartphone.
Though marketers increasingly offer apps and Twitter handles to keep viewers engaged with the program on their second device, most people aren’t focused on the program at all when they turn to their second screen. The most common activities are reading email, surfing the web, and texting. Fifty-eight percent of people use a second screen for something to do during commercials and 43 percent drift off to their second screen because the current show isn’t interesting enough.
Despite these trends, all hope is not lost for savvy marketers. Synchronized second screen ads connect with the viewer on multiple platforms simultaneously. People who see digital ads in synchronization have 60 percent higher click-through rates, and Twitter users are 250 percent more likely to click on digital ads synchronized with their TV exposure.
Though the second screen phenomenon is still taking shape, this is one trend that marketers need to stay on top of. Creative use of the second screen can help connect to viewers who are otherwise resistant to giving their full attention to any one thing at a time. Read on for more ideas on how people use their second screens.